New Report Finds Online Phishing and Fraud Activity Up 185% in 2020

-19, Gift Cards and Gaming Were the Most Common Themes Used by Cybercriminals in Online Attacks


LOS ALTOS, Calif. – April 22, 2021Bolster, a deep learning-powered, next generation fraud prevention company, today released its 2021 Annual State of Phishing and Online Fraud Report.  The report highlights the key trends that drove digital scams using data gathered from analyzing more than one billion sites. Growth in online fraud campaign activity was unprecedented with an increase of 185% from what was observed in 2019.


Remote working, online distribution and digital sales channels created an explosion in digital business in 2020. As companies accelerated their digital transformation to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, online phishing and fraud activity exploded, averaging more than 19,000 new threats being created daily.


“COVID was not the only pandemic in 2020, and unfortunately, there is no vaccine for phishing and online fraud,” said Shashi Prakash, chief technology officer and co-founder at Bolster.  “Our data shows online fraudsters are increasing their activity with unabated vigor, and companies are at risk of permanently damaging their reputation unless they rethink their approach to protecting their digital perimeter — this includes not just their employees but also their customers, partners and supply chains.”


The Bolster report provides insights into the volume of phishing and scam attacks with examples of real phishing and fraud campaign sites being used to steal credentials. Among the examples of scam sites identified are:

  • Online sales of a COVID-19 vaccine with free shipping
  • Counterfeit Ray Ban sunglasses being offered for 90% off retail
  • Applications to become a mystery shopper for Walmart and Kroger grocery stores


Key findings from the comprehensive 2021 report include:

  • 95 million new phishing and scam pages created
  • Key themes used for scams: COVID, gift cards, gaming hacks
  • Highest number of new phishing and scam sites in one month: 206,310
  • Top three industries targeted: technology, retail, finance
  • Top three countries where scams were hosted: USA, Russia, British Virgin Isles
  • Top email service used for phishing kits: Gmail


“This report proves what many brands have witnessed first-hand, the internet is fraught with scammers,” said Mark Weatherford, former vice president and global information security strategist for Booking Holdings and Bolster advisor. “We’re way overdue for an internet clean up, as phishing and scam sites have stayed active for far too long allowing consumers to fall prey and brands to lose credibility.”


The full report can be downloaded here


About Bolster

Bolster helps companies create trust and safety on the Internet with its AI-powered next generation fraud prevention platform.  The company protects some of the world’s leading brands, helping them strengthen their brand’s connection to their customers, partners, and supply chain ecosystem.  The platform provides the industry’s fastest detection and automated takedowns of online scams, doing the work of hundreds of analysts and paralegals in only minutes.  The company has a team of security experts from leading security companies including Cisco, Symantec, McAfee, Bell Labs, and OpenDNS. Founded in 2017 and based in Los Altos, California. To learn more, go to